SOTA Review

Is Expanding Women’s Self-employment A Good Thing?

ERC SOTA review No 37

Associated Themes
  • Diversity
  • Entrepreneurship

Despite the increasing scope of the literature studying the influence of gender upon women’s engagement with entrepreneurship, a number of foundational debates persist to inform research efforts – that fewer women create new ventures and when they do, their ventures are more likely to exhibit poorer performance parameters and are less likely to grow when compared to male-led businesses. Regardless of this, there is a generic presumption that entrepreneurship is a desirable career choice for women and moreover, society will benefit if more women become entrepreneurs. Within this SOTA review, we review the evidence that challenges the notion that entrepreneurship is a positive choice for women or indeed, necessarily generates broader socio-economic benefits. We base this argument upon the evidence that despite claims it offers women work-life balance, self-employment can create new time pressures and generate poorer returns than employment, whilst individual employment or State provided benefits such as paid ante-natal support, extended paid maternity leave, subsidised child care are rationed or absent.